Teaching children good values needn't leave children feeling bored or scolded. In fact, they're more likely to learn positive values such as patience, perseverance and respect if they associate them with positive experiences.
There are many ways to teach good values, from modelling good behavior in your own life and discussing situations in which good values are especially important with your children when the arise, to incorporating those values into games and leisure time.
Here are a few ideas for doing just that.
Activities which have to be practiced again and again to perfect are ideal for teaching perseverance. Learning to play a musical instrument, for example, or writing poetry are wonderful creative activities that will teach children to set themselves goals, work to attain them, and set themselves new goals to keep progressing.
For girls, arts and crafts projects which take a long time to complete are ideal. Why not try a heritage hobby such as bobbin lace making? Boys will likely prefer something more physical, such as learning to play a sport or gaining competence in a martial art.
Patience and perseverance are closely linked, as persevering at a difficult task often involves patience. In a world of immediate gratification, seeing only slow progress can be frustrating for children, who often want to see big results straight away.
There are some activities that naturally move at a slow speed. Incorporating these into leisure time is a good way to encourage children to slow down and savor success over a longer period of time.
Gardening offers the perfect lesson in patience. Choose a selection of seeds, both flowers and vegetables, to plant with your children, then watch as the seeds slowly sprout and bloom. Encourage your children to water the growing plants every day so they can see how the plants slowly mature with the changing seasons. Once their produce has ripened, there’s nothing more rewarding than cooking with vegetables you have grown from seed yourself.
Any group activity or team game will encourage cooperation, as success in these tasks depends on learning to work together. Group art projects in which all children are encouraged to participate, team sports like soccer and basketball, and team problem solving challenges all encourage working together.
If you’re looking for something novel to try, have the children set up an obstacle course. It can be either indoors or outdoors, and you can use any materials for the obstacles, although soft materials such as pillows or soft play tunnels would be best. Once the children are happy with the course, get them to pair up into teams of two.
One of each pair then has to put on a blindfold, and the other has to give instructions to help them navigate the obstacle course. When one in each team has run the course, swap and let the other in each team try the course, while their team-mate gives the instructions.
You can time each run and add the scores of the two participants in each team together to determine a winning team.
The word ‘respect’ has a lot of different meanings. We can respect one another; we can respect the environment; and we can respect the awesome power of nature. At its core, respect is about having enough humility to understand that we are not at the center of everything, and that others – people, animals and the environment – must also be considered too.
One way to teach children about respect and why it’s important is to help them make a collage around the theme of respect. Talk to them about the different types of respect, what they mean, and why they matter. Then help them find images either in magazines or on the internet illustrating respect in all its forms and use them to build the collage.
Children naturally teach each other the value of honesty while playing board games, as cheats are just no fun to play with! Keep a range of classic board games in your home, and encourage your children to use them.
There are also some good books on honesty. You might want to check out The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which tells the classic fairy tale of a boy who lied one too many times, and wasn't believed when it really mattered.
Another popular book on honesty is The Empty Pot. This is also a fairy tale, this time from China, and tells the tale of a small boy who was outstanding at growing flowers, so he was all the more sorry when the emperor gave him a seed, but it refused to grow...
For more books featuring classic values, check out the Heroes of Liberty range.